Fear, Trembling, & Excitement?

If you are a web developer who makes a living teaching web design, you may experience these emotions as I did this afternoon. Casually gleaning new stuff from my aggregator subscriptions and listservs I selected a link from Stephen Downes informative listserv and was sorta knocked out of my chair with the discovery of a new product that was so unusually rich and challenging that also seemed to take everything I have spent years learning and render it obsolete! Such is the power of new technologies. I can’t remember ever experiencing such contrasting emotions from such a simple act. I felt threatened, yet very excited. Fortunately I was able to share the product with a few faculty and then with one of my classes. We discussed its potential impact and our emotions after previewing the product demonstration and video. I think we will be in dialogue about it for some time to come, but it is comforting to have other professionals to share with about such events and new products.

Fear and trembling comes from the threat to the fabric of one’s daily practice. Excitement comes from the possibilities of a new technology that could dramatically impact global learning. Who knows where the wind blows.

If you are not into creating your own portal such as mygoogle, myyahoo, or netvibes you may get interested after visiting Zude. It is to be released in beta on May 1, so there is a waiting period, but a brief animated demo on the site will give you an idea of what’s to come and the video of the developers and a live demonstration will rock you. There is also an informative article from ZD Net.

Another site that is similar but a few steps back perhaps is yourminis. It creates widgets for your blog, website, and now…desktop! A very powerful rip, mix, & burn tool.

I have been a proponent of self-directed learning in my classes and often have students work on a personal learning environment (PLE). Their job just got easier. Zume allows you to drag and drop any webpage, application (a web-based api), images from other sites, videos, and pretty much anything on the web can be drag/dropped onto a Zude document page. You can also link any of your objects to any other objects creating a new type of rip, mix, burn.

This type of application is referred to as a “platform of personal expression (PPE)” by ZD Net and it further engages the interactive designer into envisioning a web that is a mixture of whatever technologies can deliver the goods the user needs. It changes our way of thinking about design, it stretches our imagination, it challenges us to get very close to all the technologies we can manage to understand and share as a community. It is one more reason why we need to develop a stronger community of practice as a department. We need to be networking to keep up with all that is happening.

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